SIEM REAP - Urbanland, an award-winning Cambodian property developer founded by architect Hok Kang in 2013, today launched the first design-focused travel publication on Siem Reap at Treeline Urban Resort. The book Siem Reap: A Designer’s Perspective shines a spotlight on some of the most stylish places to sleep, eat, shop and soak up the magic of this beautiful destination.

Featuring bespoke illustrations by Lylean Lee and a gorgeous illustrated map of the city’s temples, pagodas and other landmarks by designer Monnyreak Ket, and printed on high quality paper, the book is an ode to Siem Reap’s inspiring creative community.

Divided into four sections – ‘Sleep’, ‘Eat + Drink’, ‘Arts + Design’ and ‘Explore’ – this travel tome includes over 200 stunning images that capture the rich colours and dreamy light of this part of the world, as well as poetic essays about Siem Reap and the people that form the heart of the city.

Siem Reap: A Designer’s Perspective gives readers an insider’s look at the city’s most striking properties and their backstories, from how they were first envisaged, the people behind them, and their design and architectural details: think elegant and modern design hotels such as Treeline Urban Resort and Viroth’s Hotel and Villas, through to lush, landscaped properties of exquisitely restored traditional wooden Cambodian houses such as Maison Polanka and Phum Baitang.

The book is a collaboration between architect Hok Kang and designer/photographer Nataly Lee. Hok, as the managing director of Urbanland and chief architect of Treeline Urban Resort, trained in Japan with Kengo Kuma — an experience that profoundly influenced his design work. Having returned to Cambodia, he founded the firm HKA & Partners and trained Cambodia’s next wave of architects in a modernist style suffused with traditional Khmer elements.

Nataly, who was born in Cambodia and raised in New Zealand and Australia, is currently based in Phnom Penh. Working in a range of fields and across different platforms, Nataly has worked with brands such as Virgin Airlines, Sony Music, Converse, ABA Bank, The Gallery of Modern Art and Treeline to name a few. Her work has been featured in magazines and publications around the world.

The pair use their deep knowledge and passion for Siem Reap and their trained design eyes to showcase the most beautiful dining, drinking, shopping and cultural spots in the city, from hidden cocktail bars to bijou boutiques, restaurants serving the best contemporary Khmer cuisine, organic farms, off-the-radar designer’s ateliers and ceramics studios through to Cambodian ballet and circus troupes.

The book also takes visitors off the beaten track, highlighting a side of Siem Reap that many tourists miss. They take readers on an evocative journey to local markets, smaller, less crowded temples, the mighty Tonle Sap lake and out to shimmering, rippling green rice fields.

“Hok and I felt the need to put Siem Reap on the map in terms of art and design, and to show to the world that Cambodia is more than just temples and the killing fields. This book is an intimate insider's view, not just of the usual tourist attractions, but of real people and authentic brands that make up the city. It’s beautifully printed and designed and the writing is intentional and poetic,” said Nataly.

The idea of this book came from many conversations I had with my good friend and collaborator, Nataly Lee. We share a great passion and veneration for Siem Reap, and always discuss how we can play our little part in bringing out the best of this amazing city to the world,” said Hok.

Hok is passionate about promoting Cambodian art to the world and committed to helping Cambodia’s creative community. Cambodia’s contemporary art and design scene is coming of age, yet is one still in need of support. An estimated 90% of the country’s working creatives were targeted and executed by the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, which overtook the country from 1975-79. And while a new generation of young artists and designers are now making waves, there is still a lack of infrastructure — from design schools to exhibition spaces and museums — to support them. Through projects such as Siem Reap: A Designer’s Perspective and other planned publications and resources, Urbanland and Treeline aim to fill this void. The resort itself is built around an open-air gallery and a permanent collection of artworks by some of the country’s best artists. The hotel also has plans to create a foundation to support the country’s aspiring artists.

“Community and creativity are part of our DNA,” said Treeline’s General Manager Joni Aker. “These are two of our guiding principles at Treeline and are part of everything we do — from showcasing Cambodian heritage, design and art as a way of celebrating the local culture and people, to supporting talented, up-and-coming creatives.”

“This book is a celebration of our magical city and its inspiring creatives and we are so proud of Nataly and Hok for creating it. It’s the perfect gift for design aficionados and those with a sense of wanderlust. With its unique, insider travel tips, it makes for excellent research ahead of any visit to Siem Reap.”

Part of Urbanland’s larger vision for the city is to help regenerate Siem Reap’s riverside district into a buzzing creative district for tourists and locals alike in the future. Hok believes the area has endless opportunities, not to mention historical significance: as one of the country’s most sacred waterways, it flows from the waterfalls of Kulen Mountain — which have ancient lingas carved into the river beds — meanders around the temples of Angkor and then into present-day Siem Reap, before flowing out into the vast Tonle Sap, the largest lake in Southeast Asia.

“Siem Reap without this river wouldn’t be such an inspiring city — so we need to protect it. When you drive or stroll along this tree-lined river, and there is a cool breeze in the air, there is nothing quite as magical. My dream is to see the river turned into a leafy, clean community space filled with public art installations and pop-up galleries,” said Hok.

Siem Reap: A Designer’s Perspective is available for purchase directly at Treeline Urban Resort or online via SATU.